09/20/2014 01:22 EDT | Updated 06/16/2017 01:02 EDT

BC Ferries won't get more government subsidies: Todd Stone

Ahead of the Union of B.C. Municipalities' annual general meeting next week, the B.C. government is trying to undercut a report claiming ferry fares are hurting the economy.

B.C. coast island residents and small business owners have been complaining about rising ferry fares for months, and many say they felt vindicated when a new report commissioned by the UBCM, and backing up their experiences, came out last week.

The report concluded that billions of dollars have been lost in B.C. because of the provincial government's decision to raise ferry rates.

- MORE | BC Ferries hikes mean loss of $2.3B, says UBCM report

But B.C. Transportation and Infrastructure Minister Todd Stone has written a letter to the union's president, in which he rejects the UBCM's conclusions.

"Our sense of this report is it's highly simplistic in terms of the analysis that's been done," he told CBC News on Friday. "The assumptions that have been made that kind of underpin the findings of this report are so massively overstated that you could drive a ferry through them."

"It's far too simplistic to suggest that just because someone may not have taken a ferry, they didn't spend money in B.C. in some other facet," he said.

The UBCM will use its meeting next week in Whistler to call for changes to many things, including BC Ferries cuts, but Stone says his government is not prepared to turn the boat around, and start spending more on the service.

"There is no more room for additional taxpayer subsidy to BC Ferries," he said.

Find out more by watching the videos that accompany this story, and watch The National on Sunday, Sept. 21, for CBC reporter Chris Brown's report on how changes to BC Ferries are affected island life.

- On mobile? Click here to read Minister Todd Stone's Sept. 19 letter to the UBCM

- On mobile? Click here to read the UBCM Report "Boatswains to Bollards"